Stress is our body's response to protect us under mental or physical pressure. But if you are constantly stressed, then your body pays a hefty price for it. Chronic stress can decrease immunity, affect menstrual cycle, cause indigestion and increase the risk of heart disease or stroke. More commonly, it can harm the brain and cause anxiety, depression and other such mental disorders. Thus, the ability to fight stress by a healthy lifestyle, especially a healthy diet plays an important role. Here are the top foods to help you deal with stress better.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables contain high levels of vitamin B complex that are known for relieving stress and keeping the mind calm. It helps in fighting depression and anxiety. Vitamin B helps in boosting energy levels and helps overcome fatigue. Most green leafy vegetables like spinach, coriander, and fenugreek leaves also contain magnesium, which helps to balance cortisol levels which in turn helps to balance other hormones in the body and cut down effects of chronic stress.
Nuts and Seeds
Certain important minerals required by the body and mind like zinc and magnesium are found in nuts like almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds. Studies have shown that low levels of zinc are linked to depression and anxiety. Nuts are also rich in B complex vitamins. These vitamins and minerals together amp up serotonin production which helps to restore good mood and fight stress.
Green tea is a rich source of antioxidants and amino acids especially theanine. Researchers have found that green tea not only protects against cancer but also works as a mood enhancer. Tea contains flavonoids, which are known for their strong antioxidant action. Adding a few drops of lemon juice (vitamin C) to your cup of green tea also boosts immunity.
Avocado is a superfood as it contains phytochemicals, carotenoids, glutathione and monounsaturated fatty acids. Avocados are high in potassium, which helps lower blood pressure. All these antioxidants make it not just a great stress buster but also helps to manage our overall health better.
Stress is not just mental; it can be seen physically in form of wrinkling and aging of the skin. Berries like blueberries or strawberries are full of vitamin C which is an antioxidant that fights stress as well as helps in collagen formation. Blueberries have the highest levels of antioxidants amidst all berries. They also help in lowering blood pressure, cortisol levels and helps beat effects of stress in the long run.
Serotonin is known as a feel-good chemical, which is found in the brain. It is available in copious amounts in oatmeal, a complex carbohydrate. Oatmeal gives a greater feeling of satiety and helps feel fuller for longer. Oatmeal bestows a calming effect on the mind and helps combat stress.
Dark chocolate is the tastiest food that you can eat at all times; whether you are in a good or bad mood. It helps in calming a disturbed mind. Dark chocolate has antioxidants like polyphenols and flavanols more than fruits which leaves you with a good feeling after just a few bites. Stress management is possible without gaining weight too. Once or twice a week having a few small pieces of dark chocolate will elevate your mood and relieve you from stress too, which itself can cause weight gain.
These resemble the brain so much that they must definitely be taken for coping with stress. Walnuts not only contain antioxidants, but they are filled with alpha- linoleic acids, omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols, which have been found very useful for elevating mood and prevention of memory loss. There have been studies stating that ingestion of walnuts reverses the signs of aging too. Thus, it is said that a walnut a day keeps stress away!
Folates and B complex are known for their mood enhancing properties. Asparagus is one such vegetable, which has a high content of folates and vitamin B. Asparagus produces dopamine which prevents anxiety and depression. One can benefit from this by either eating it cooked or raw as part of salads or smoothies.
One can benefit from indulging in a cup of chamomile tea in the long run. You will immediately feel relaxed after having this fragrant tea. Research says that it helps to reduce stress by decreasing anxiety and fighting depression. It is great to be had just before bedtime. According to the University of Maryland Medical Centre, chamomile is also used to treat sleeping disorders as it calms the nerves and will help in getting sound sleep. It is a well-known fact that a good sleep is key to beat the whole day's stress.